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Digital First Media

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MNG Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Digital First Media and MediaNews Group, is a Denver, Colorado-based newspaper publisher owned by Alden Global Capital.

MNG Enterprises, Inc.
Digital First Media
Closely held
Traded asGrey MarketMNGE
Founded2011 Edit this on Wikidata
Headquarters,
U.S.
Areas served
New York
Pennsylvania
Ohio
Michigan
Minnesota
Colorado
California
Key people
Steve Rossi (CEO & President)
Michael Koren (CFO)
Guy Gilmore (EVP, Eastern Region)
Mac Tully (EVP, Central Region)
Sharon Ryan (EVP, Western Region)[1]
OwnerAlden Global Capital
Number of employees
10,000+
Websitewww.digitalfirstmedia.com

HistoryEdit

 
The MediaNews Group logo, which still appears on print newspapers.

MediaNews Group was founded by Richard Scudder and William Dean Singleton. Both had experience in the American newspaper industry. Scudder ran the Newark (New Jersey) News, a newspaper founded by his grandfather.[2] Singleton had begun his career as a reporter when he was 15, for a small-town Texas newspaper and subsequently became the president of Albritton Communications, a newspaper conglomerate in Texas.[3]

Based in Denver, Colorado, Scudder and Singleton purchased their first newspaper in 1983. They incorporated MediaNews Group in 1985, with Singleton as CEO and Scudder as chairman.[4] The company began to purchase small local newspapers that were undergoing financial troubles. In 1987, the company made its first major acquisition: the Denver Post. Ultimately, it became one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States. It operated 56 daily newspapers in 12 states, with combined daily and Sunday circulation of about 2.4 million and 2.7 million, respectively.[5][6] The company owned KTVA, a CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska, from March 2000 to October 2012, and radio stations in Texas.

Singleton was a pioneer in "clustering": developing groups of newspapers that centralized a variety of functions, including production, ad sales, business operations and, in some cases, editorial. For example, the Alameda Newspaper Group in suburban San Francisco in the mid-1990s had a central newsroom in Pleasanton, California, that did all the copy editing, layout and page makeup for five daily papers.[7] Upon acquiring the diverse group of papers, Singleton consolidated several news sections (such as sports and features) to one local office away from the metropolitan area, having a few reporters do the job of many people.

In August 2006, the company took out around $350 million in loans to purchase four newspapers from McClatchy Company. Among those providing the loan was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.[8] It came out of bankruptcy in March 2010 under the majority ownership of its lenders.[9] The MediaNews creditors then removed Media News president Jody Lodovic and its chairman, William Dean Singleton, was reassigned to the position of “executive chairman of the board." The Singleton-Lodovic appointees to the MediaNews board were replaced by new directors representing the stockholders group led by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund firm which has acquired a large, though not controlling, stake. Several interim executive positions were also filled by people related to Alden or its parent, Smith Management LLC.[10] MediaNews became managed by Journal Register's Digital First Media.[11]

As of 2012, the combined newspapers and online media outlets managed by the company had 66.6 million readers.[12] In 2017, the company was ranked third-largest among the newspaper groups in the country.[13] Alden Global Capital has been accused of "strip mining" its newspaper holdings.[14][15][better source needed] In October 2017, the company's CEO, Steve Rossi, stepped down from his position.[13] In February 2018, Digital First Media put in a $11.9 million winning bid to purchase the Boston Herald.[16]

In March 2016, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Freedom Communications and its two major newspapers, the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise to Digital First Media. The papers were integrated into Digital First Media's Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which was renamed the Southern California News Group on the same day.[17][18]

In November 2018, DFM announced plans to lay off 107 staff from its Colorado Springs, Colorado financial services operations, as it outsources the work to Genpact starting December 28.[19][20]

In January 2019, Digital First Media acquired 7.5% of Gannett's public stock,[21] and made an unsolicited bid to acquire Gannett for $1.36 billion. On February 4, 2019 Gannett's board "unanimously rejected" the offer,[22] saying "that MNG does not have a realistic plan to acquire Gannett".[23] On February 11, 2019, Gannett issued a press release accusing Digital First Media of engaging in a proxy fight.[24] After a failed attempt to place 3 nominees on Gannett's board of directors through a proxy vote on May 16, 2019, DFM reduced their stake to 4.2%.[25] In August 2019, GateHouse Media ultimately announced its intent to acquire Gannett instead.[26]

NewspapersEdit

Daily newspapersEdit

Daily newspapers owned by MediaNews, alphabetically by state and hometown, include:[27]

Weekly newspapersEdit

Some of the weeklies owned by the company:[28]

Former NewspapersEdit

Other propertiesEdit

Other MediaNews properties include:

Former propertiesEdit

ControversyEdit

MediaNews Group is known as a cost-cutter in the newspaper publishing industry. The company has a reputation for buying smaller daily newspapers in a single area (examples include Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area) and consolidating their operations, including sharing staff writers and printing facilities. As a result of the cost-cutting, some former employees say that the newspapers are focused on making a profit to the detriment of good journalism.[30]

Former owner William Dean Singleton was quick to point out MediaNews's commitment to print journalism, not diversification into other media. The Berkshire Eagle editor David E. Scribner, two years after MediaNews bought his newspaper, said the staff respected Singleton despite layoffs because of his hands-on leadership and "traditional emphasis on good writing."[31]

However, in recent years similar criticism has been aimed at the new organizational structure under Digital First Media. The Denver Post editorial staff and others have criticized the owners of hedge fund group, Alden Global Capital. Alden has a reputation for cutting costs by reducing the number of journalists working on its newspapers, and March 2018, The Washington Post called Alden "one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism."[32][33] Alden has additionally received critical coverage from its editorial staff of the Denver Post and described Alden Global Capital as "vulture capitalists" after multiple staff layoffs.[34]

Pension fund controversyEdit

The company has been criticized for investing its employee pensions in funds managed by its parent company, Alden Global Capital.[35]

Antitrust allegationsEdit

On July 14, 2006, San Francisco businessman and real estate investor Clint Reilly filed a lawsuit against MediaNews Group and San Francisco Chronicle parent Hearst Communications, alleging that the two companies have been conspiring to control advertising rates, a violation of antitrust laws. In November 2006, Reilly's attorney presented to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston a letter from Hearst senior vice president James Asher to MediaNews President Jody Lodovic that said the two companies agreed to "offer national advertising and internet advertising sales for their San Francisco Bay Area newspapers on a joint basis, and to consolidate the San Francisco Bay Area distribution networks of such newspapers ...." Illston, suggesting she had been misled by the companies when they said they had not been collaborating, issued a 14-page ruling[36] forbidding Hearst and MediaNews from working together on national advertising sales or distribution.

On December 21, 2006, the San Francisco Bay Guardian and nonprofit Media Alliance filed suit to make the details of Reilly's lawsuit—and MediaNews and the Chronicle's response—public.[37] As a result of the filing, many documents in the case were voluntarily disclosed by the defendants. The judge allowed redacted versions of two more documents to be released. She kept 17 others under seal. One of the documents unsealed was the deposition of Hearst's Asher, who says that as of September 2006, his company had recorded cumulative losses of $330 million on its investment in the Chronicle,[38] which it acquired in mid-2000. He said Hearst proposed selling the Chronicle to MediaNews, but MediaNews didn't offer enough money. Asher also said Hearst and MediaNews have discussed working together for years. Although the trial was scheduled to start Monday, April 30, 2007 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco,[39] the parties announced Wednesday, April 25, 2007 that a settlement had been reached.[40]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "digitalfirstmedia.com Leadership". Retrieved Dec 14, 2016.
  2. ^ Cook, Timothy (15 August 2005). Governing With the News, Second Edition: The News Media as a Political Institution (Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226115016.
  3. ^ Charles, Rivers. America’s Most Influential Editors: The History of the Newspaper Publishers Who Changed American Journalism and Politics.
  4. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (2012-11-15). "Richard B. Scudder, Co-Founder of MediaNews Group, Dies at 99". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  5. ^ http://www.medianewsgroup.com/about/ Blurb from the corporate website
  6. ^ http://www.medianewsgroup.com/about/ MediaNews Group About Page
  7. ^ "ALAMEDA: FIVE NEWSPAPERS PAGINATE 2300 PAGES PER WEEK". The Cole Papers. Feb 6, 1994. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  8. ^ ""Gates Foundation Makes MediaNews Loan", Toronto Star. August 22, 2006.
  9. ^ McCarty, Dawn; Bensinger, Greg (2010-01-22). "Affiliated Media Files for Bankruptcy to Restructure (Update2)". BusinessWeek. Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
  10. ^ Langeveld, Martin (2011-01-20). "The shakeup at MediaNews: Why it could be the leadup to a massive newspaper consolidation". Nieman Journalism Lab. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism (Harvard University). Retrieved 2011-02-22.
  11. ^ Buttry, Steve (2011-09-07). "Journal Register's Digital First Media will manage MediaNews". The Buttry Diary. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  12. ^ Carey, Pete (May 4, 2012). "Digital First Media's chief says newspapers have key advantages in the struggle for readers and advertising". San Jose Mercury News.
  13. ^ a b Doctor, Ken (2017-10-23). "Digital First Media's CEO steps down; what may lie ahead for the company?". TheStreet. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  14. ^ "Petition | Alden". aldenexposed.com. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  15. ^ "DFM Workers". DFM Workers. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  16. ^ Chesto, Jon (2018-02-13). "Digital First Media wins bidding for Herald with $12m package". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  17. ^ Hebbard, D.B. (2016-03-21). "Bankruptcy judge approves Digital First Media purchase of Freedom Communications assets". Talking New Media. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  18. ^ Roderick, Kevin (2016-03-21). "Memo: LA News Group now So Cal News Group". LA Observed. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  19. ^ Roberts, Michael (2018-11-01). "How 107 Digital First Media Layoffs Will Impact Denver Post, 96 Sister Papers". Westword. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  20. ^ Heilman, Wayne (2018-10-30). "Owner of The Denver Post laying off 107 at Colorado Springs service center". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  21. ^ Edwards, Christian. "Digital First Media is reportedly planning to make an offer to buy USA Today publisher Gannett". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  22. ^ "Gannett Comments on MNG Enterprises, Inc.'s Continued Failure to Produce a Financing Commitment". Business Wire. March 20, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  23. ^ Arbel, Tali. "Gannett rejects $1.36 billion buyout offer from Digital First Media". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  24. ^ Hayes, Dade; Hayes, Dade (2019-02-11). "Gannett Rebuffs Board Maneuver By Digital First Media In Proxy Fight, Blasts Takeover Proposal As "Deficient"". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  25. ^ Tyko, Kelly (May 22, 2019). "Hedge fund-owned MNG reduces stake in Gannett to 4.2%". USA Today. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  26. ^ Lombardo, Cara; Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (August 5, 2019). "GateHouse Media Parent to Buy Gannett for $1.4 Billion". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  27. ^ MediaNews Group. "Daily newspapers". Our newspapers. Denver, Colorado. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  28. ^ MediaNews Group. "Non-daily newspapers". Our newspapers. Denver, Colorado. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  29. ^ http://www.timescall.com/ci_17152929
  30. ^ Menn, Joseph (March 22, 2006). "There Are Two Sides to This Publisher's Story". Los Angeles Times.
  31. ^ Elfland, Mike. "Sentinel & Enterprise Sale Set," Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), January 8, 1997.
  32. ^ Ember, Sydney (12 April 2018). "Colorado Group Pushes to Buy Embattled Denver Post From New York Hedge Fund". Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
  33. ^ Silber, Tony. "Job on the Line, Denver Post Editor Hears Nothing from Company Owner". forbes.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  34. ^ Ember, Sydney (2018-04-07). "Denver Post Rebels Against Its Hedge-Fund Ownership". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  35. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan (2019-04-17). "The hedge fund trying to buy Gannett faces federal probe after investing newspaper workers' pensions in its own funds". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2019-05-17. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  36. ^ U.S. District Court Order Re: Second Application for Temporary Restraining Order[permanent dead link], November 28, 2006.
  37. ^ Williamson, Kate (December 22, 2006). "Weekly, Nonprofit Sue to Open Records". San Francisco Examiner.
  38. ^ Said, Carolyn (February 1, 2007). "Hearst, MediaNews Talks Included Possible Sale of Chronicle". San Francisco Chronicle.
  39. ^ "MediaNews, Hearst Trial Set to Proceed". San Francisco Examiner. February 9, 2007.
  40. ^ Egelko, Bob (2007-04-25). "Hearst, MediaNews Group settle Reilly suit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-05-30.

External linksEdit